Rock the Vote -- Part III

                    Harnessing the Political Power of the Cats

It’s a good time to be a cat owner in Pennsylvania. As the Senate race between Democrat Joe Sestak and Republican Pat Toomey comes down to the wire,  both candidates are trying to woo the cat owning citizens with bold promises and flashy ads. A new poll shows that 87% of cat owners in the keystone state are undecided, compared to 14% of dog owners, 8% of lizard owners, and 3% of Presbyterians. That’s a number no campaign can pass up, and it’s no surprise that desperate candidates are using everything in their war chests to capture the elusive vote.


After the poll was released, Democrats struck first by giving all Democratic members of Congress a kitten that was to be worn either on the shoulder or around the politicians’ necks in a tiny cage like a necklace as a sign of support. These fashion-cats started a trend, and a poll taken that day showed cat owners were in favor of Democrats, three-to-one.


That number quickly changed later that night after the Republican group Americans for American Freedom in America donated three tons of cats to local schools in Pennsylvania. The cats, many of which were adorable and not at all nasty, are now roaming school hallways and brightening everyone’s day. A poll conducted seven minutes after Operation School Cat was announced showed that 68% of cat owners were ready to vote for a Republican senator, and staggering 99% wished rainbows could talk.


Democrats tried to retaliate by giving area hospitals a few dozen lions, but according to a very speedy poll conducted in a matter of minutes, cat owners are not necessarily lion enthusiasts, and the plan backfired. Plus, the hospitals were ill-equipped to deal with lions. The lions were rounded up and taken to a farm, except three lions that escaped and now dwell in the sewers, thus prompting the Republican TV ad calling the Democrats “Sewer Lions,” a term that doesn’t really mean anything, but when said in a condescending manner is rather effective.


Looking to even the playing field, Sestak used his skills as an amateur veterinarian to cure a few sick cats on The Tonight Show. Polls showed that cat owners enjoyed this, but not nearly enough cat owners watched the show, as 45% of them were sleeping and 33% didn't care for their cats.


Toomey, meanwhile, went on The View last week to promote feline osteoporosis awareness. And it probably would have helped put him over the top, if only he hadn’t stumbled over the words, “feline osteoporosis awareness.” He tried to recover by calling it, “bad cat bones,” but the damage was already done. And the cat owner vote was once again, up for grabs.


In a last-ditch effort to nab the cat owner vote, the Sestak campaign paid a reported $400,000 to have Sestak drawn into a Garfield comic strip. Garfield author Jim Davis rarely uses his comic strip for political purposes, except for that one instance in which Garfield took a stand against the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act of 1994.


With only days left before the votes are cast, and some polls showing there are only minutes remaining, the candidates have big stunts planned to win over the cat lovers. Rumor has it Sestak will announce a dog tax later today, and Toomey volunteers were seen shoving small, thin kittens under the doors of potential voters.

Will it be enough? Cat owner Lisa Gunkle said, "I don’t know. Maybe I’ll stay home. It’s all so busy."


Dan Bergstein cannot tell the difference between candy corn and regular corn.

July 23: Jessica Mitford died on this day in 1996.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).

Watching Them Be

What makes a film actor into a larger-than-life movie star? James Harvey's passionate, freewheeling essays explain why there are some faces (from Greta Garbo's to Samuel L. Jackson's) from which we cannot look away.


What if you called up the spouse on the verge of leaving you -- and instead found yourself magically talking to his younger self, the one you first fell for?  Rainbow Rowell, author of the YA smash Eleanor & Park, delivers a sly, enchanting take on 21st-century love.